3 Minute Monday
I’ve been thinking about why people say the things they do on social media and its potential impacts.
There is an incentive to post outlandish takes online.
The more shocking, simplistic, cynical and limbically highjacking it is, the more successful it is with likes and shares.
“On Twitter and Facebook, each word in a post referring to the political out-group increased the odds of the post being shared by 67%.
Out-group language is the strongest predictor of social media engagement, which may be creating perverse incentives.” — Rob Henderson
This becomes self-reinforcing and causes people to post more-exaggerated stances, which have been socially rewarded to the point where the poster may actually begin to believe this newly-stated position.
The online persona begins to subsume the person.
The problem is, no one who consumes this content realises that the poster was optimising for engagement through outlandishness, rather than for truth.
People post performatively but it’s interpreted realistically.
In this way, you have an ever increasing asymmetry of crazy takes with genuine reception, which moves real opinions in a negative direction.
Here’s an example:
A TikTok video was shared by a young women who had printed out 350 reasons why she didn’t want to have kids on 20 pages.
Cons ranged from “Baby = Parasite” to “Swollen ankles”, “No alcohol for at least a year”, “People always want to rub your tummy” and “Can’t wear heels” but also including more serious and rare medical complications.
Now I don’t know just how much this women genuinely dislikes the prospect of having children, but 90% of all her posts are on the topic and she’s self-branded as “THE GIRL WITH THE LIST”.
The hashtag ‘girl with the list’ now has more than 35 million views on TikTok and has transformed into a massive trend of women discouraging other women from wanting children.
This trend has even bled across into actual mothers taking videos of their babies while saying they wish they had never had them, how it’s stopping them from living their lives and having the freedom that they wanted.
I don’t care if you think all kids are the devil, that’s a despicable thing to do to a new born baby.
However the rewards continue to align to incentivise any outlandish content because this is what catches the algorithm’s.
Further intensifying the performative-posting effect.
People post performatively but it’s interpreted realistically.
Now I actually think that there’s something deeper going on here, specifically with the antinatalism trend.
Life has never been more comfortable.
Humans have never had such luxury and as many alternatives to raising children.
Having a child is difficult.
Studies suggest that the moment-to-moment experience of child rearing is not particularly happy, but rather the longer-term meaning that parents derive from raising kids is where the satisfaction comes from.
So given that we live in a world which optimises for immediately accessible pleasure, but children front-load discomfort, you have the perfect environment for individuals to gauge the worth of having kids by the same metric they judge their broadband speed or Netflix subscription by – convenience and enjoyment.
Population collapse is already here, meanwhile we’re TikTok dancing through a prelude to the apocalypse.
“We just need to celebrate having kids.” — Elon Musk
Anyway, TLDR: People post things online that they don’t believe to get attention, however it’s not perceived by the audience as exaggerated, which shifts opinions in real ways and creates a new baseline for future content to be more extreme.
I do a podcast which has had 180 million+ downloads. You should subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
This week’s upcoming episodes:
Peter Attia – one of the best and most evidence-based longevity researchers on the planet takes us through all his best insights from his new book including a massive deep dive on training, diet, sleep, supplements and more.
Nicholas Eberstadt – 7 million men in America aren’t working and aren’t looking for work. Why? How do they afford to live? What does this mean for their mental health? And the implications for UBI?
Thomas DeLauer – one of the best dieticians on the internet joins to give his fascinating life story and some amazing insights for eating for fat loss and performance.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED
Lottery winning men and women behave very differently.
“When men win the lottery, they become a lot likelier than demographically similar lottery losers to get married, and have more children.
But when women win the lottery, the only big change in their behaviour is divorce: Divorce rates for women double.
Men seem to use their newfound resources to build families, while women use them to exit families.
If one of the most popular justifications for why couples avoid having children (that they can’t afford it) is true, why does an increase in wealth cause this effect in women?
It suggests a core part of low fertility is how people (especially women) value potential partners.
In surveys, women continue to report desiring much-higher-earning partners, and when men suddenly have more money, they do in fact get married more.
Policy makers shouldn’t “solve” this by handing out man bonuses.
But understanding why men and boys are falling behind women in education and professional attainment could be a core part of increasing fertility.” — The Atlantic
Population decline is terrifying.
“For every 100 Koreans, there will be 4.3 great grandchildren.
We are looking at a 96% extinction rate within the next century.
If there was a disease that did that, we would freak out.
The world lost it over a disease that killed 1-2% of people.
We need to take the fertility crisis much more seriously.” — Malcolm Collins
Limit your inputs.
“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention” — Herbert Simon
How does watching different creators make you feel?
This is the best question I’ve learned to ask myself when choosing what to consume.
Some YouTube channels are compelling and limbically hijacking and keep me watching, but I feel uptight and tense and negative or cynical and zero-sum after watching them.
I don’t want to message my friends and tell them I miss them or pay people compliments or go outside and see nature.
That’s not the sort of content I want to consume any of, no matter how much it makes my dopamine/anger fire.
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Some very big announcements about my live tour are coming soon. Exciting!!